The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has extended the stay of its Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) for a period of 12 months, from 1st January 2021. As announced by The Chronicle in September last year, it is now officially confirmed that the ECOMIG’s mandate will be transformed into a Police mission after December 2021 elections.
During the 58th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government recently held via videoconference, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou has informed leaders of the sub regional body that the process to transform the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), into a Police mission, is now a done deal and complete.
The troops to constitute the ECOMIG Police Units will be filled by men from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal and Togo who have agreed to contribute to the new mandate. The European Union will provide a financial and technical support.
The ECOMIG mission in The Gambia, also branded “Operation Restore Democracy”, was to help President Adama Barrow create an enabling environment to replace the chaotic Security legacy born out of Yahya Jammeh’s 22 year iron rule.
Four years later, the ECOMIG mission is still in The Gambia prompting the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government to move its mandate from a stabilization force into a Police mission at its 57th Ordinary Session held in Niamey, the capital of Niger. ECOWAS heads of states also recommended that President Adama Barrow, his government and all stakeholders in The Gambia work along on reforms which “outcomes are implemented scrupulously“.
With the rejection of the draft Constitution by the Gambia’s parliament, the prospect of building a consensus around a new fundamental text has narrowed. The Political divides have deepened while le clock continues ticking as the country prepares for a presidential and legislative elections at the end of 2021.
During the Saturday virtual summit, ECOWAS heads of states have called on all political stakeholders in The Gambia to build consensus on the draft Constitution. The tacit dialogue to quash the contentious issues surrounding the draft Constitution is current led by Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former President of Nigeria.
In the virtual videoconference, ECOWAS leaders have demanded that President Adama Barrow take the political lead in maintaining the dialogue for the adoption of the Constitution and compliance with the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) electoral calendar. The draft Constitution will be due to a referendum in June 2021, before the presidential elections in December 2021.
Hence the decision of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to extend the stay of ECOMIG stabilizing forces to safeguard the security environment ahead of the period of uncertainty prior to adopting the Constitution and the presidential election.